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Acta Neuropathol. 1996;91(3):254-62.

Neuronal and vascular pathology produced by verocytotoxin 2 in the rabbit central nervous system.

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Department of Mental Retardation and Birth Defect Research, National Institute of Neuroscience, Tokyo, Japan.


To study the pathogenesis of the central nervous system (CNS) involvement associated with verocytotoxin-producing Escherichia coli infection, we developed an animal model by administering verocytotoxin 2 to rabbits either intravenously or intrathecally. After an interval of 2-9 days, the rabbits became paralyzed in a dose-dependent manner and in the absence of renal impairment. The minimal intravenous and intrathecal doses that produced these neurological signs were 250 and 0.4 ng/kg, respectively. After intravenous administration, most of the toxin was cleared from the serum within 24 h, with concomitant transition of a small amount into the cerebrospinal fluid. Pathological examination revealed that neurons in various CNS regions showed atrophy, cytoplasmic hyperchromasia and nuclear pyknosis as early as 6 h after administration. The distribution of affected neurons was constant and irrespective of the route of administration. Abnormalities of the blood vessels, such as the thickening of arterioles walls, were noted from 2 days after administration. The vascular lesions became more prominent after the intrathecal injection, which caused thrombosis and multiple infarction. Selective deposition of the toxin on the vessel walls was demonstrated immunohistochemically. Thus, the pathological manifestations of verocytotoxin 2 neurotoxicity consisted essentially of two types of lesions, early neuronal and late vascular, both of which might have developed under the influence of the toxin that had entered the CNS by crossing or circumventing the blood-brain barrier.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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